Blair, Robert (1593–1666), presbyterian minister and a founding father of Irish presbyterianism, was born in Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland, fourth son of John Blair of Windyedge, merchant adventurer, and Beatrix Blair (née Muir). He graduated MA from Glasgow University (1614), became regent (professor) there (1616), and was licensed by the Scottish established church. He resigned in 1622/3 after disagreements over prelacy; but since the Church of Ireland needed clergymen, Bishop Robert Echlin (qv) of Down and Connor was prepared to ordain him (10 July 1623), and James Hamilton (qv), 1st Viscount Clandeboye, presented him to the living of Bangor. Blair introduced elements of presbyterian discipline, and was associated after 1625 with the Six Mile Water revival in Co. Antrim, when six ministers, without reference to the bishop, held mass meetings. Thousands experienced religious conversion, and physical manifestations were reported. A monthly meeting of ministers and laity was initiated at Antrim, but Bishop Echlin, fearing presbyterianism, suspended Blair and others (1631). Reinstatements and further suspensions alternated till 1636, when Blair, with other dissatisfied presbyterians, attempted to emigrate to America in the ship Eaglewing, but was forced by storms off Newfoundland to return to Scotland. He revisited Ireland after 1641, but was minister in St Andrews (1639–61), chaplain to a regiment in the Scottish army in England (1643), moderator of the Scottish general assembly (1646), and chaplain to Charles I. He took part in important attempts to spread presbyterianism into England, but was ousted from his parish after the restoration and confined to retirement in specified places. He may have preached as a covenanter for some time. He died 27 August 1666 in Aberdour.
He married first Beatrix Hamilton (d. 1632), daughter of an Edinburgh merchant; they had two sons and a daughter. He later married (12 May 1635) Katherine, daughter of Hugh Montgomery of Ballyharry in the Ards; they had seven sons and a daughter. Several of his sons and descendants were ministers and (with others, such as his grandson Robert, a famous poet) were notable in Scotland. Blair's autobiography is a valuable source on early presbyterianism in Ireland; his other writings are lost.